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Black Baptists

Black Baptists

Assembly of Free Spirit Baptist Churches

Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association

National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.

National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc.

National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A.

National Missionary Baptist Convention of America

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

United American Free Will Baptist Church General Conference

Assembly of Free Spirit Baptist Churches

Contact information not provided for this edition.

The Assembly of Free Spirit Baptist Churches (AFSBC) was founded in 1985 by former ministers and members of the older Baptist churches who had adopted a spontaneous worship style commonly associated with Pentecostalism (but not Pentecostal doctrine) and who felt excluded from other Baptists. Baptists have, as a whole, adopted a more staid worship format and have questioned the freewheeling and expressive worship associated with traditional gatherings within African-American churches. The assembly has an outreach ministry using inspirational audiotapes.

Membership

In 1994 the church reported 85,000 members.

Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association

1916 Central Ave., Kansas City, KS 66102

The Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association (FBFA) was founded on August 22, 1962, and incorporated on July 9, 1975. Its stated purpose is to “promote fellowship between Bible-believing Baptist Churches of like faith and order; to foster the spirit of evangelism; to spread the Gospel; and advance the cause of Christ through mutual efforts in Christian education and missions.”

The association is based on affirmation of biblical inerrancy, the Trinity, the depravity of man, and salvation by grace. Member churches and individual associate members also adopt a pre-millennial and pre-tribulation eschatology. The 28 member churches, largely African American, are located in the southern United States and the Midwest, with both a northern and southern national representative. A number of the churches are also connected to the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. The association has a partnership with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE), an independent mission agency founded in Rhode Island in 1927, known originally as the Association of Baptists for Evangelism in the Orient (ABEO). The partnership with ABWE is particularly significant because of previous conflict between the ABWE and some member churches in the FBFA.

In 2008 Dr. Allen McFarland, senior pastor of Calvary Evangelical Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia, was president of the FBFA.

Membership

In 2008 the association reported 28 affiliated congregations.

Sources

Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association. www.fbfa.us/.

National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.

777 S R Thornton Freeway, Ste. 210, Dallas, TX 75203

In 1915, an issue arose in the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc., over the ownership of the publishing house. Early in the convention’s life, the Rev. R. H. Boyd (1843–1927), a brilliant businessman, was made corresponding secretary of the publication board. Under his leadership, the publishing house did over two million dollars in business during its first decade. As time passed, however, some members of the convention realized that the publishing interest had been built on Boyd’s property, and all the materials had been copyrighted in his name. Further, no proceeds were being donated to other convention activities.

In a showdown, the 1915 Convention moved to correct its mistake by adopting a new charter that clarified the subservient position of the boards. Refusing to comply, Boyd withdrew the publishing house from the convention and made it the center of a second national Baptist convention, called the National Baptist Convention of America. Because of its refusal to accept the charter, it is usually referred to as “unincorporated.”

In 1987 the National Baptist Convention of America was incorporated in Shreveport, Louisiana, under the new caption, The National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. (NBCA).

In September 1988 the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., and the National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc., met in their annual sessions in Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth, Texas, respectively. A joint worship service convened in the Reunion Arena in Dallas, celebrating their togetherness and protesting apartheid in South Africa.

Following the joint worship service, the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., re-convened in its 104th Annual Session in Fort Worth, Texas. Controversy over the ownership of the National Congress caused division among the Convention messengers. The heart of the controversy was whether the National Convention would operate its own congress as an auxiliary or whether the convention would continue to relate to a National Congress chartered, owned, and controlled by the National Publishing Board, with no responsibility to the convention. After debate and a democratic vote, the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., voted to operate its own National Congress. As a result of this decision, a new National Missionary Baptist Convention was born in November 1988.

Today the National Baptist Convention, Inc., continues to support mission fields in the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands, Panama, Haiti, and Ghana in West Africa.

The National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., continues to honor its commitment to its nature and function as articulated in its constitution.

The NBCA, Inc., convenes three times per year. The Convention at Study focuses on the teaching ministry and is implemented through the National Baptist Congress of Christian Workers (NBCCW) and the National Youth Convention (NYC).

Ten colleges and seminaries are supported.

Membership

In 2008 there were about 3 million members in the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc. In 2005 there were about 5,000 churches and 5,000 ministers.

Educational Facilities

Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Morehouse School of Religion, Atlanta, Georgia.

Periodicals

Lantern.

Sources

National Baptist Convention of America. www.nbca-inc.com.

Boyd, R. H. Boyd’s National Baptist Pastor’s Guide. Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1983.

———, ed. The National Baptist Hymn Book. Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1906.

Lovett, Bobby L. A Black Man’s Dream: The First 100 Years—Henry Boyd and the National Baptist Publishing Board. Nashville: Mega Corp., 1993.

Pius, N. H. An Outline of Baptist History. Nashville: National Baptist Publishing Board, 1911.

National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc.

1700 Baptist World Center Dr., Nashville, TN 37207

The National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. came into existence after the adoption of a resolution before the Foreign Mission Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. to merge itself, the American National Baptist Convention, and the Baptist National Educational Convention. To these three would be added a publications board for Sunday school literature. The Convention was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1895. Elected president and corresponding secretary of foreign missions were Rev. E. C. Morris (b. 1855) and Lewis G. Jordan, respectively. Both were able men; the National Baptist Convention’s survival, stability, and success were in no small part due to their long terms in office.

Doctrine and government were taken over from the white Baptists. The congregational form of church life allowed a ready adaptation to the black culture, which used religious forms as a socially accepted way to express their frustration and to protest their conditions. The worship developed a high degree of emotional expression, making little reference to traditional liturgical forms. (While freed from the rituals of their white parents in the faith, the local church developed its own “forms,” which seem spontaneous to the occasional visitor. In fact, the black Baptists allowed themselves to create a new religious culture, the pattern of which they follow weekly in their service.)

Within two years of its founding, the new National Baptist Convention ran into trouble when Jordan moved its offices from Richmond to Louisville. The Virginia Brethren, fearing a loss of power, withdrew support. They formed the Lott Carey Foreign Missionary Convention, which still exists as an independent missionary society. A more serious disagreement split the denomination in 1915.

For 29 years (1953–1982) the National Baptists were led by J. H. Jackson (1900–1990). He was succeeded in 1982 by T. J. Jamison, the son of the convention’s president, from 1941–1953, D. V. Jemison. The current president is Dr. William J. Shaw.

The Convention coordinates the work done in the field through five regions headed by a vice president who serves on the Board of Directors.

There is mission work in Africa and the Bahamas. The group operates five colleges, a theological seminary, and a training school for women and girls.

Membership

In 2008, the Convention reported 7.5 million members. It is to be noted that in the late 1990 serious charges were made that the membership of the convention’s churches had been grossly over estimated. It is also the case that no formal count has ever been made, and thus the actual number remains a contested issue, with estimates as low as one million, while the Convention claims 7.5 million members. Most observers now put the actual figure at between 3 and 5 million.

Educational Facilities

American Baptist College, Nashville, Tennessee.

Periodicals

National Baptist Voice. Send orders to 2900 3rd Ave., Richmond, VA 23222

Remarks

In the summer of 1997, convention president Henry J. Lyons (b. 1942) became involved in what has been a growing controversy after his wife was accused of setting fire to a house owned by Lyons with another woman. She eventually confessed and was sentenced to five years probation. The incident, however, led to an investigation of Lyons and charges of widespread misuse of convention funds including the diversion of funds intended for the rebuilding of black churches. Legal problems forced Lyons to resign from the presidency. Dr. S. C. Cureton, vice president-at-large, took over the leadership of the convention and served the remainder of the Lyons’s tenure.

Sources

National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc. www.nationalbaptist.com.

National Baptist Voice. www.nationalbaptistvoice.com.

Jackson, J. H. A Story of Christian Activism. Nashville, TN: Townsend Press, 1980.

———. Unholy Shadows and Freedom’s Holy Light. Nashville, TN: Townsend Press, 1967.

The National Baptist Pulpit. Nashville, TN: Sunday School Publishing Board, 1981.

Pegues, A. W. Our Baptist Ministers and Schools. Springfield, MA: Wiley & Co., 1892.

Pelt, Owen D., and Ralph Lee Smith. The Story of the National Baptists. New York: Vantage Press, 1960.

National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A.

441-61 Monroe Ave., Detroit, MI 48226

A. A. Banks founded the National Baptist Evangelical Life and Soul Saving Assembly of the U.S.A. in 1920 in Kansas City, Missouri. It was begun as a city mission and evangelical movement within the National Baptist Convention of America, with which it remained affiliated for 15 years. Differences arose in the mid-1930s, and in 1936 at Birmingham, Alabama, the Assembly declared itself independent. Centers were established in cities across the nation.

No official statements regulate the doctrine of the Assembly, but generally the doctrine follows that of the National Baptist Convention of America. Relief work, charitable activity, and evangelizing are the main concerns of the Association. Each member hopes to add one member to the kingdom annually. Correspondence courses have been developed in evangelism, missions, pastoral ministry, and the work of deacons and laymen. Degrees are awarded for these studies.

Membership

Not reported. In 1951 there were 57,674 members, 264 churches, and 137 ministers.

National Missionary Baptist Convention of America

6925 Wofford Dr., Dallas, TX 75227

The National Missionary Baptist Convention of America was founded in 1988 as the result of a schism in the National Baptist Convention of America. The crux of the conflict was the National Baptist Publishing Board. The board, which had been established in the 1890s by R. H. Boyd, had operated as an independent corporation headed by Boyd and his descendants. In 1915, a disagreement over the relationship of the board to the National Baptist Convention led to a split and to the formation of the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc., which wished to have a publishing concern under its own control, and the National Baptist Convention of America, which continued the relationship with the Boyd family’s National Baptist Publishing Board.

Over the years, the board supplied many services to the convention. Among these has been an annual summer Sunday School Congress, a teacher training school that drew more than 20,000 students. However, the board made no accounting of the profits from such activities nor did the convention share in the revenues.

In the mid-1980s, voices began to rise within the convention calling for a reordering of the relationship between it and the Publishing Board. At a meeting in the summer of 1988, a majority of the attendees at the annual meeting of the National Baptist Convention of America voted to break ties with the Publishing Board and to begin conducting an independent Sunday School Congress. As a result, those who disagreed with the decision met in Dallas, Texas, in November 1988, and organized the National Missionary Baptist Convention. They have remained loyal to the Publishing House and will continue to support its annual Sunday School Congress. Rev. S. M. Lockridge (1913–2000) of San Diego, California, was elected as the first president of the convention.

Organizers of the new convention claim their share of the history of the National Baptists for the last century. It is too early yet to see what percentage of the five-million-plus members will adhere to the continuing National Baptist Convention of America or to the National Missionary Baptist Convention, though the majority has seemed to favor the new convention.

Membership

In 2008 the convention reported 338 affiliated congregations, the greatest number being from Texas. At the time of the schism, there were an estimated five million members of the National Baptist Convention of America. Early reports indicated that as many as twenty percent of that membership would withdraw, meaning that the new convention would have churches with a cumulative membership of over a million, but those figures have not been verified.

Sources

National Missionary Baptist Convention of America. www.nmbca.com.

Waddle, Ray. “Baptists’Split Intensifies over Rival Publishing Boards.” Nashville Tennessean (March 11, 1989).

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

601 50th St. NE, Washington, DC 20019

The Progressive National Baptist Convention was formed in 1961 following a dispute over the length of presidential tenures at the 1960 meeting of the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., Inc. In 1957, J. H. Jackson (1900–1990), who had been elected president in 1953, declined to step down and removed the four-year tenure rule out of the convention’s constitution. Prior to the adoption of the rule in 1952, elected presidents served until their death. At the 1960 convention session, dissatisfaction came to a head in the attempt to elect G. C. Taylor as Jackson’s successor. The failure of Taylor to attract more support led, in 1961, to a new National Baptist Convention meeting formed by L. Venchael Booth (1919–2002) of Zion Baptist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. He was elected the first president of the new Progressive National Baptist Convention.

Also at issue in the 1961 break was denominational support for the civil rights movement, then gaining momentum in the South. Those who formed the new convention represented the strongest backers of Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968), who was among those to join the progressives.

The convention is in agreement on doctrine with its parent body, the disagreements being concerned with organization and social policy. It has organized nationally with two-year terms for all officers, except the executive secretary, who has an eight-year term. The women’s auxiliary was formed in 1962 and a department of Christian education, home mission board, and foreign mission bureau were soon added.

On October 15, 2007, the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia (of which Morehouse School of Religion is a founding member), opened the Gardner C. Taylor Archives and Preaching Laboratory. This state-of-the-art facility will enable distance education and research.

The Progressive National Baptist Convention supports the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, and other ecumenical bodies. It has active ministries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Membership

In 2008 the denomination reported 2,000 churches and 2.5 million members (1.5 million are in the United States).

Educational Facilities

Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, Indiana; Morehouse School of Religion, Atlanta, Georgia.

Periodicals

Baptist Progress. Available from 712-14 Quincy St., Brooklyn, NY 11221. • The WORKER. Available from 601 50th St. NE, Washington, DC 20019.

Sources

Progressive National Baptist Convention. www.pnbc.org/

King, Martin Luther, Jr. Strength to Love. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.

———. Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Signet, 1964.

Taylor, Gardner C. Chariots Aflame: Dynamic Appeals from One of the Nation’s Outstanding Preachers. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 1988.

United American Free Will Baptist Church General Conference

207 W Bella Vista St., Lakeland, FL 33805

The United American Free Will Baptist Church General Conference (UAFWBC), an African-American body, traces its roots in America to the founding of the initial Free Will Baptist congregation in 1727 in Perquimans County, North Carolina, by Paul Palmer. The first General Conference of Free Will Baptists was held in 1827. Rev. Robert Tash was the first African American to be ordained in the General Conference (1827). It was not until after the American Civil War that separate congregations led by African Americans appeared in the Free Will Baptist community, the first being formed in 1867. The UAFWBC was incorporated in 1968 but is rooted in the Negro General Conference, which began in 1898.

UAFWBC members affirm traditional Arminian (as opposed to Calvinist) Baptist doctrine. They profess the Apostles’Creed but change the wording at crucial points, professing belief in “the Free Will Baptist Church” and “eternal life for all true believers who persevere in holiness to the end.” The articles of faith affirm that children who die in infancy will go to heaven. Conference churches practice believer’s baptism and foot-washing and teach a general resurrection of the dead.

In 2008 the general bishop was Dr. Henry J. Rodmon.

Membership

In 2008 the conference reported 41 congregations in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

Periodicals

UAFWBC Newsletter (online).

Sources

United American Free Will Baptist Church General Conference. uafwbc.org/.

Payne, Wardell J. Directory of African American Religious Bodies. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1991.

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